Surgery photo leads to privacy lawsuit against Torrance Memorial

“A doctor put stickers on a patient who was under anesthesia, and a photo was taken. The lawsuit underscores how, despite hospitals’ rules, the pervasiveness of cellphones raises concerns about privacy.”

Quotes from Dr. Peel:

“‘The idea that people are using their cellphone or even have one in the operating room is crazy,’ said Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights, a nonprofit advocacy group in Austin, Texas. ‘It’s a massive security risk and incredibly insensitive to patients.'”

“In similar cases elsewhere, Peel said, hospital personnel often lose their jobs. In 2010, for instance, four employees at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach were terminated because they used cellphones to photograph a dead emergency-room patient and shared the photos with others, according to state records.”

To view the full article, please visit: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hospital-patient-privacy-20130905,0,7915045.story

Benefits of Online Medical Records Outweigh the Risks- Includes Opposing Quotes from Dr. Deborah Peel

An article written by Larry Magid in the Huffington Post quotes PPR when speaking about the issues surrounding electronic health records. You can view the full article here: Benefits of Online Medical Records Outweigh the Risks.

“There are also privacy concerns. In a 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed, psychiatrist Deborah Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights, complained that ‘lab test results are disclosed to insurance companies before we even know the results.’ She added that data is being released to ‘insurers, drug companies, employers and others willing to pay for the information to use in making decisions about you, your job or your treatments, or for research.’ Her group is calling for tighter controls and recognition that “that patients own their health data.'”

Crunch Two Data Sets, Call Me in the Morning

See full article in Bloomberg Businessweek Article

As hospitals are acquiring more and more digital patient data, they are quickly turning to “Big Data” tech companies with expertise in data-mining, which “has already led to some measurable improvements in patient care” according to hospital administration. However, patients are rarely notified when their records are being used in this way because the data is exempt from federal privacy protection due to their necessity for “quality improvement”. “People do not like to have researchers of any stripe using their electronic health records”, says Deborah Peel, MD of Patient Privacy Rights. “As a matter of respect and autonomy and patient-centeredness, patients want to be asked. When they are asked, by and large, they support this. It’s the not-being-asked stuff that’s really bad”. A breakdown in patient-physician trust about data privacy can cause huge problems with patient care arising from patients refusing to share all necessary information with physicians as a means to avoid exposure.

Report: HIEs failing at true interoperability

See a summary of the report by Mike Miliard at GovHeathITHIEs failing at true interoperability

· Healthcare organizations “must unlock the patient data in EHR silos of hospitals and affiliates to better coordinate and improve quality of care delivered. Health Information Exchange technology is the enabler.”

· Until EHR vendors incorporate a shared set of standards, HIEs will remain in a state of stunted development, said Moore: “Across the board, legacy systems fail to support true interoperability, and vendors are doing little to remedy this situation.”

· The report will also look to the future as to how this [Health Information Exchange or HIE] market will grow and evolve over the next several years as meaningful use requirements take hold, healthcare reform brings forth changes in reimbursement models, access to health data moves to mobile platforms and the consumer takes on a larger role.”
The quotes above show that the health technology industry and the government are beginning to face key facts:

· Data silos endanger patient health and safety: obviously we need our doctors to see relevant parts of our medical records held by other doctors/hospitals.

Electronic Health Records companies, hospitals, and the many other corporations that hold our electronic health information want to continue to “own”, control, and sell our personal health data. They built this system of “silos” that PREVENT data exchange (also called “interoperability”).  Corporations fiduciary duties to make profits for shareholders trump exchanging health information to save patients’ lives and reduce costs!

· Consumers = patients. If we say so, our health records must be shared with our physicians or other health professionals. This is matter of law.

No matter which corporations or health professionals hold our electronic health data, we are entitled to electronic copies. If you say your health data should be sent to another physician or health professional, the data holder must send it. ONLY individual patients or “consumers” have clear rights to control personal health information and have it sent to the other physicians and health professionals who are treating them.

· HIEs, data exchanges where patients have no meaningful control over who can copy and use their health information, are not the answer.

How “Direct” exchange works (via the “Direct Project”): a participant (like our physicians) can send secure, encrypted health information directly to a known, trusted recipient over the Internet. Unlike the case with HIEs, personal health information can’t be “pulled” from the 10, 20, or 100 places that hold our health records. Using the “Direct” method, someone has to decide to send one patient’s data to another person.

We ["consumers"] are the ONLY ones who can quickly, easily, and legally get and “exchange” our own health records at will. Hippocrates Oath, the foundation of the physician-patient relationship, states that sensitive health information should ONLY be shared with the patient’s consent.  Data exchanges like the Direct Project

The only way electronic health systems can work and earn the public’s trust is if data flows are controlled by patients, with very rare legal exceptions.

Paperless Medicine?

Electronic medical records that follow patients from doctor to doctor. Hospitals with instantaneous online access to lab results and health histories. Disease researchers with a state’s worth of field data at their fingertips. It all hinges on a single question: Can Texas physicians go paperless?

…But even the most ardent supporters acknowledge they face an uphill battle. Consumer rights advocates fear e-records could jeopardize patient privacy. Some health care providers aren’t convinced e-records benefit their practice — or their bottom line. And until recently, the only software on the market was clunky and complicated, fueling doctors’ skepticism.

…“The health and financial information that goes along with being treated in a hospital or a doctor’s office is incredibly valuable,” says Deborah Peel, founder and chair of the Austin-based nonprofit Patient Privacy Rights. “Once your sensitive health information is sold or lost, you can’t ever make that information private again.”

Physician network to use genomic-based preventive healthcare

MDVIP, Inc., a national network of physicians based in Boca Raton, Fla., is collaborating with a personal genomics testing company in an effort to integrate genomic-based preventive healthcare in physician offices.
This initiative will provide MDVIP’s affiliated physicians with a genomic testing service from Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Navigenics.
Navigenics will provide MDVIP patients and their affiliated physicians with insight into their personal genetic predisposition for developing certain medical conditions where primary or secondary prevention could improve health outcomes.

EHRs don’t save Texas doc time, money or paper

I can’t stand it any longer! This nonsense that electronic health records will save money must stop! We have a six-man orthopedic group in Lubbock, Texas, and have had one company for six years and were ill advised to switch to another this year. Both are nothing special, don’t save time, don’t save money, don’t save paper, are not safer for patients.

My God, who are the idiots who have convinced our legislators that these systems will somehow save money? Improve patient safety? Hogwash! Try to update a longstanding patient’s profile in your computer … see how long it takes you, how slowed down your office will be. I just read that there are only 50 practices using our current company in the U.S. I know why—the system has huge flaws, like not being able to fax batched documents. Where are the efficiencies? For $250,000, I could have hired more staff, funded my pension and taken a hell of a vacation. Somebody please stop this misinformation.

Content of weblogs written by health professionals

BACKGROUND: Medical weblogs (“blogs”) have emerged as a new connection between health professionals and the public. OBJECTIVE: To examine the scope and content of medical blogs and approximate how often blog authors commented about patients, violated patient privacy, or displayed a lack of professionalism. DESIGN: We defined medical blogs as those that contain some medical content and were apparently written by physicians or nurses. We used the Google search term “medical blog” to begin a modified snowball sampling method to identify sites posting entries from 1/1/06 through 12/14/06. We reviewed five entries per blog, categorizing content and characteristics.
RESULTS: We identified 271 medical blogs. Over half (56.8%) of blog authors provided sufficient information in text or image to reveal their identities. Individual patients were described in 114 (42.1%) blogs. Patients were portrayed positively in 43 blogs (15.9%) and negatively in 48 blogs (17.7%). Of blogs that described interactions with individual patients, 45 (16.6%) included sufficient information for patients to identify their doctors or themselves. Three blogs showed recognizable photographic images of patients. Healthcare products were promoted, either by images or descriptions, in 31 (11.4%) blogs. CONCLUSIONS: Blogs are a growing part of the public face of the health professions. They offer physicians and nurses the opportunity to share their narratives. They also risk revealing confidential information or, in their tone or content, risk reflecting poorly on the blog authors and their professions. The health professions should assume some responsibility for helping authors and readers negotiate these challenges.

IT bill draws concerns

Health information technology legislation passed by a House committee last week is being called a good start in what ultimately is a challenging and lengthy process to electronically connect physicians, hospitals and pharmacies to the patients who rely on them for care.

But provider groups and health policy shapers say that they are still leery over some of the bill’s payment, privacy and security components and are eyeing potential tweaks to the legislation that they said would reduce the burden to hospitals and physicians. And on another front, privacy advocates said that the bill is too lax; previous bills have stumbled because of privacy concerns.

Our Pen-and-Paper Doctors

With electronic health records seen widely as a way to make medical care better and possibly cheaper, it is disturbing how slowly they are being adopted by American physicians. If this country does not accelerate the conversion from paper to modern technologies, many of the gauzy promises of health care reform made by politicians and health planners will become irrelevant.
The bad news about electronic health records was gathered in a survey of 2,700 practicing physicians led by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital, with financial support from the federal government and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The results were published online by The New England Journal of Medicine.